US Senate lets states defund 'abortion' clinics

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 31 (IANS) US Senate Republicans, aided by Vice President Mike Pence, voted to undo a rule preventing states from blocking funding for family planning clinics that also provide abortions, a media report said.

Thursday's vote was one of a string of showdowns to reverse former President Barack Obama's administration regulations, but this one unfolded with all the drama of numerous past conflicts over abortion funding -- with Pence casting the tie-breaking vote in his role as President of the Senate, the New York Times said in the report.

"The Congress is sending a resolution to President (Donald) Trump ensuring that states are not forced to fund America's abortion giant, Planned Parenthood," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of a prominent anti-abortion group.

Taking money away from Planned Parenthood, the bill's target, has been a longstanding goal of congressional Republicans, but earlier efforts were blocked by Democrats and President Barack Obama.

Senate Democrats all voted against the bill, as did two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Collins and Murkowski have long opposed attacks on funding Planned Parenthood, which they argue provides services for women in areas with scarce health care options.

Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, who returned after two back surgeries, was cleared by his doctors to travel for one day only to help pass the measure, but it took the final vote of Pence to break the 50-50 tie, the New York Times report said.

"Historically low teen pregnancy rates did not happen in a vacuum," said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan.

The measure, he said, "will disproportionately hurt people in rural and underserved areas where these clinics are more often than not their primary source of health care."